The new Mercedes GLA includes wireless charging capability
For many people, being able to charge a smartphone while out on the road is vital. Because multifunctional modern mobiles are ideal for everything from in-car entertainment to navigation, battery life can easily be used up over long journeys.
At the moment the only way to keep a phone topped up when behind the wheel is to invest in a third party in-car charger, which means you need to trail wires all over the cabin and take up the cigarette lighter/power socket.
This may not be ideal, particularly if you want to mount the smartphone in a position that makes it visible so that you can follow the mapping or glance to see which track is about to play from your media collection.
However, Mercedes-Benz is looking to change this in 2014 by adding wireless charging capabilities to a number of its vehicles, including the recently announced Mercedes GLA, according to Daimler.
Wireless charging has been gradually becoming a more mainstream feature in recent years and some smartphones, including the Nokia Lumia 920, have this capability built in as standard.
It works by placing the device on a compatible wireless charging pad, at which point the battery will begin to absorb electricity through the phone’s chassis, with no need for a cable or wire to get in the way of the experience.
Mercedes-Benz is planning to use the Qi wireless charging standard, as laid out by the Wireless Power Consortium, which should help to keep the array of compatible devices fairly broad.
The charging pad will be built into somewhere convenient in the car, such as the glove box or central arm rest, which means you will still be able to access the phones services via Bluetooth while also keeping it safe and secure when on the road.
Charging begins automatically and is also ceased as soon as the battery is full, so there is no risk of damaging your phone when placing it on the pad.
This month, two new iPhones were unveiled by Apple, although in spite of earlier rumors to the contrary, neither possesses the native ability to harness wireless charging.
This means that people who do want to combine their preferred smartphone with the new Qi charging stations in Mercedes-Benz vehicles next year will probably still have to invest in a separate charging shell for their device.
These shells double up as protective carry-cases and will allow you to wirelessly charge everything from an iPhone to a BlackBerry while preventing serious physical damage from occurring during everyday use.
The technology adopted by Mercedes-Benz will usually trickle down to the more basic brands of the auto industry several years later. So if wireless charging is being given the nod in 2014 then it could eventually become a ubiquitous feature of modern cars. Of course some innovations still fail to catch on, so it is worth watching how wireless charging progresses with care.
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